Tuesday, 2 October 2012

449: Peter Cook and Dudley Moore - The Masked Phantom

Goodbye Again, 1968

Peter Cook as Reporter
Dudley Moore as the Masked Phantom

In which the aggressive wrestler is really a camp, artistically-inclined sissy. Basically, it’s an opportunity for Dudley Moore to camp it up once again - and at rather too long a length.


REPORTER: Good evening. Tonight in Worldnewspectoramaprobe, we examine the controversial sport of wrestling. Last week, I went down to the Shoreditch gymnasium to see the Masked Phantom in training. . .

(Cut to the Shoreditch gymnasium)

REPORTER: Well, here I am at the Shoreditch gymnasium, and we're about to see a practice bout between the Masked Phantom, who is just over here behind me, and looking very confident - a very fit, compact and agile fighter. His opponent tonight is an extremely dour and tough northerner from Scunthorpe, the Scunthorpe Strangler. I'm just going to try and get a word with them before the fight begins. . .

(The bell rings. The wrestlers start fighting)

REPORTER: I think I'll probably leave now, and let them get on with it . . .

(The Scunthorpe Strangler picks up REPORTER, and hurls him out of the ring. The Masked Phantom wins the ensuing bout, and joins REPORTER for an interview)

REPORTER: Speculation has been raging up and down the country as to the true identity of this ferocious fighter. Tonight, for the first time in the history of the universe, the Masked Phantom rips off the mask and reveals his true identity.

(The Masked Phantom removes his mask, revealing the familiar features of Phantom)

PHANTOM: (very camp) Hello.

REPORTER: Good evening, Phantom.

PHANTOM: I wish you'd call me Tom.

REPORTER: Tom, wrestling's a pretty rugged sport. What made you go into it?

PHANTOM: I think really to prove myself as a man, you know. The whole Sir Francis Chichester, Round The Horn bit, you know.

REPORTER: I understand - to prove yourself as a man. Are these fights in any way ever fixed?

PHANTOM: (increasingly effete) Well, I can't speak for my colleagues in the profession, but speaking purely personally, you know, I go in that ring to be champ. I go in there to win. I become like some ferocious beast, you know - like some savage monster. I pull that mask over my head and something goes pop in my mind. And then something comes over me.

REPORTER: The mask, presumably?

PHANTOM: Right first time, cheeky chops. Whereas in real life, look at me now. Gentle, sensitive person - wouldn't hurt a fly.

REPORTER: Well, we have a chance to test the sincerity of the Phantom's words, as I happen to have a fly with me here in the studio, which I'm going to place in front of him and judge his reactions. Phantom, a fly for you.

(REPORTER takes a small box .from his pocket, and passes it to Phantom)

PHANTOM: A fly for you and a fig for me.

(Phantom opens the box)

PHANTOM: What a beauty! What a lovely creature! I think you're very cruel, keeping him cooped in here like that. (to the fly) Off you go, Ferdinand! (to REPORTER) Honestly, you are awful!

REPORTER: Proof positive, I think, of the Phantom's sincerity.

PHANTOM: If I may interrupt here, excuse me, but as Goethe, the great German poet said, die Liebe ist Alle - all you need is love, baby.

REPORTER: You mention Goethe. What are your favourite kind of books?

PHANTOM: Er, leather bound ones, mainly. You know, I love old things. Any old thing appeals to me. It's what they say about me down the gym, anyway.

REPORTER: Have you any interests outside the ring?

PHANTOM: My goodness gracious me, yes I have! Oh, yes! The people look at me and, you know, all they see is a great hunk of flesh. You know, I get branded as a wrestler, whereas in fact I'm interested in anything you care to mention - ceramics, pottery, sculpture, music, dancing, theatre. You name it, and I love it.

REPORTER: You mention theatre. What sort of roles do you see yourself in?

PHANTOM: Ooh, you're going to get me going, aren't you? Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I know I'm stretching my neck out, but I love Shakespeare. You know, whatever anybody says about him, I adore that man. I'd love to have a go at his King Lear, for instance.

REPORTER: You see yourself as King Lear?

PHANTOM: Well, shall I say I feel it here within me, you know. But all I need is a good director to coax it our. I think, oh what's his name? Come on, mutton head! REPORTER Brook! REPORTER Brook could get a wonderful Lear out of me. He could get a wonderful anything, you know. I only wish I'd put myself up for Oedipus.

REPORTER: You're interested in the Greek theatre, too?

PHANTOM: (ecstatic) The Greek theatre! I've loved the Greek theatre ever since “Never On A Sunday”. All that music and dancing, the philosophy - I love it!

REPORTER: Have you been to Greece recently?

PHANTOM: I only put a little body oil on before the show. Does it show?

REPORTER: I meant the country.

PHANTOM: Oh, I thought you meant grease! I'm sorry! I'm miles away!

REPORTER: Outside all your interests such as the theatre and ceramics, I understand you're also something of a singer.

PHANTOM: Yes, I've waxed my first disc, actually, just recently.

REPORTER: And I believe that, rather unusually, you accompany yourself on your own body.

PHANTOM: Yes, I call it deep singing. It's actually just an extension of Paganini's dictum. You know, the great violinist, Paganini.


PHANTOM: He used to say, 'Whenever I make love to a lady, I like to think I'm playing the violin.'

REPORTER: I wonder if you could give an example of your singing now?

PHANTOM: I'd be delighted. I'll just whip my cosie off.

REPORTER: Right. Here, accompanying himself on his own body, in “O For The Wings of A Dove”, the Masked Phantom.

PHANTOM: Don't laugh, now.

(sings) O for the wings, for the wings of a dove

Far away, far away would I roam

(speaks, to REPORTER) I feel a bit thin without the backing behind, but that's the sort of thing.

REPORTER: I think it's very promising, and I'm sure we all wish the Masked Phantom an immense hit with his first record.

PHANTOM: You're very sweet, thank you.

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